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Gary Kildall Special

A profile on computer pioneer Gary Kildall and the important contributions he made to the PC industry including the true story on how IBM ended up using MS-DOS rather than CP/M. Kildall developed CP/M, the first personal computer operating system. He was also a co-host on the early Computer Chronicles series. Includes comments by Gordon Eubanks, Symantec; Tom Rolander, DRI; Tim Bajarin, Creative Strategies; Lee Lorenzen, DRI; Jacqui Morby, TA Associates; Alan Cooper, CP/M applications developer. Originally broadcast in 1995. Copyright 1995 Stewart Cheifet Productions.

Run time 26:22:00
Audio/Visual sound, color


Reviewer: 16rpark18 - - December 29, 2013
Subject: Visionary, Scholar, Humanitarian
...although Gary may not have described himself this way, he truly was one of the 'good guys in white hats'. His forward looking vision of the future launched a world with trillions of microcomputers running business applications, stoking the fires of free enterprise and profit making. Its good to see a documentary that clears up misconceptions, and gives Gary the credit due to him, his team and their brilliance.
Reviewer: cmgventura - - December 16, 2013
Subject: Should be mandatory viewing for any computer user!
Great little show about Gary Kildall. I was around in those days and had visions of how personal computers of the future would work. I used DRI's products on early PCs. This is the kind of person who I respect and admire, it's sad he didn't understand the cut throat business he was in. But many people are dreamers and he was a scientific genius, not a real businessman. For those who think Jobs and Gates invented the PC world, check this out! Highly recommended.
Reviewer: c harney - - August 30, 2008
Subject: Very Intertesting!
watch this video if you want the back story on the modern computer.
Reviewer: rem486 - - May 17, 2007
Subject: A question
Why is there a version of the show that stops half way through? The reason the smaller version is smaller is because it gets to the part about Gary travelling the Pacific Coast HiWay and then freezes.
Reviewer: Bavarian - - April 3, 2006
Subject: BitterSweet Memories
This thread brings back memories of my face to face encounter with Gary and the people around him. The occasion was a 7 day seminar at his unpretentious office headquarters. He and other 'real' pioneers were subsequently pushed aside, trampled under and relegated to the computer junk heap. I started my computer involvement as a technical writer getting tired of white-out liquid and jumped on the chance to be able to edit documents before printing. I used a SOL-20 (Processor Technologies) machine with the FIRST true word processor written in assembly by Michael Shrayer, a great guy. He named it Electric Pencil.
This program had be loaded from cassette tape. After an early version of 5-1/4 disk drive was acquired ($800.00 or so!) Michael mailed me a disk version. No more 5 minute wait to load or save documents.
Later I switched over to the first true business application computer, the Model II by Tandy Corporation. I let the sales people at Tandy know that I would be a local supplier for software they did not have when this machine came out. I got snowed under with requests and finally took the most common demands for a workable Invoicing/Inventory/Statement system and blended them into a system the typically small enterprises could use to ease the tedium of manually keeping up with these chores. Soon, the Fort Worth small computer users pioneers refered to me as the 'Inventory Man'
The thievery by microsoft, refered to in this thread, was evident once more when the Tandy Model II freebie game called 'WORMS' showed up in the IBM PC giveaway programs on one of their disks without giving Tandy programmers any credit.
Reviewer: Harvey, the invisible rabbit. - - February 25, 2006
Subject: Memories, memories !!
I don't think Gate's Microsoft would exist if it hadn't been for Gary. I had an Osbourn 1 and a couple of Kaypros using CP/M programs ... Wordstar, DBasell. When I went to my first IBM (forget the name), I found that these programs were all executable in DOS just by changing the xxx.CP/M TO XXX.DOS . Gary should have filed suit for stealing his work.
Reviewer: HiF|yer - - June 21, 2005
Subject: What a wonderful story
and thanks to Computer Chronicles for this show.
Reviewer: mooses_software - - June 9, 2004
Subject: Riveting - Highly Recommended Viewing
Gary Kildall certainly deserves a far kinder assessment of his contributions to the personal computer that he has received to date. He developed the first micro-computer / personal computer Operating System (CP/M), he developed many innovative products (such as a true multi-tasking version of PC-DOS, GEM - a graphical user interface, etc), and he was a true pioneer in the early industry and helped countless people become involved in personal computers. He also shared his enthusiasm and ideas freely.

Bill Gates, and others, were only too happy to get early bird previews of Gary's products / ideas. From what I understand, these people were not too keen to return these favours.

Without wanting to spoil the story in this episode, it is interesting that the story presented in popular media isn't exactly the whole truth. Gary was out flying his plane when IBM came calling, but apparently this was all pre-arranged and he was actually delivering material to IBM, and then returning for the meeting with the IBM delegation in the afternoon.

(This does sound strange to me though ... Why didn't he send the material to IBM via courier ? Or, why didn't he send the material back to IBM with the delegation when the meeting was over ? Then he could have concentrated on his important meeting with IBM - or had more time to think about accepting IBM's Non-Disclosure Agreement - instead of flying his plane or doing menial delivery activities).

I believe that Gary's untimely death has robbed him of some of the recognition that may have eventually come his way if only he had lived longer.

In fact, over the years, I have often wondered about how Gary died - he was only 52 - and none of the articles / TV shows I remember reading / watching shed any real light on this. I hoped this episode of the Computer Chronicles would shed light on this. But, alas, this wasn't to be.

So, I did a Google search, an according to this WEB site :

"The Circumstances of his death are pretty murky. One report attributed it to a fall from a ladder, another an incident at a bar, and another to a heart attack. "

Which is interesting to say the least.

Anyway, it is a very interesting episode and well worth watching.

Mike "Moose" O'Malley
Moose's Software Valley - Established July, 1996.
Reviewer: kulakulashaker10 - - May 8, 2004
Subject: Gary Kildall
Control Program for Micro was the first usefull operating system for the micro computer that I know of, I am 32 years now, so I was in my early years of my life. I was lucky to have an accountant father who business demanded him to use the new fangled machines which can calculate automatically, that is how he saw computers, I saw them as game machines, the first OS I ever used was CP/M, and I read about Gary Kildall in popular computer magazines, oh yes I do not live in the united states but in a third world country where in 1980 PC were still unheard of and cost the average man his entire 2 years earning, the Irony was Intel was producing their processors just 15 minutes away from where I used to live in the early 80's. So CP/M was so cool when I saw MS DOS I still saw CP/M and did not know what to make of Micro Soft or this IBM(IBM or microsoft was virtualy unknown here, but apple and Digital Research was a common discussion topic back in those days) logo on my pc, so I dumped it and asked my dad to get me an APLLE ][ and started hacking game programs to win ended up making and selling my first software and started my journey towards a professional programming. All thanks to Gary Kildall and CP/M. Gary rest in peace u did the world something good.
Reviewer: Steve Nordby - - May 26, 2003
Subject: Must viewing
It's ok if you don't recognize the name Gary Kildall but instantly know who Bill Gates is. This show tried to correct things just a bit after Gary's untimely death. Without Gary, Bill would be a footnote. Gary co-hosted Computer Chronicles in its early years and Stewart Cheifet remarks that Gary was the rare combination of genius and gentleman. You must view this show if you are at all interested in the computing industry.
Reviewer: dtravis7 - - March 31, 2003
Subject: Gary Kildall
Loved this episode. Have always loved Computer Chronicles but this was one of the best episodes of all time. Gary was so ahead of his time. So many know nothing of his work and Genius. CPM and later GEM were outstanding and way ahead of their time. I remember the Atari ST which used the Gem Interface and it was such an easy computer to use. It too was Way ahead of it's time. I remember the Computer Chronicles Episode with Gary as Co Host showing off the Atari ST and just what it could do. I was so impressed I went out and bought an ST. Gary is so Under Rated. He gave so much to the Computer. Glad Computer Chronicles did this program so all can see just how much he gave us.
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